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Techstars Startup Digest Toronto - Frolic with the unicorns and narwhals

Issue #49 — View online — Suggest a link
Techstars Startup Digest Toronto

Locally curated talks, workshops, and other events for those interested in creating a startup, growing one, or who want to connect with startups in the Greater Toronto Area.

Good morning, Toronto startups and entrepreneurs! Two Toronto companies made some moves further into unicorn/narwhal territory last week. Ada — chatbot provider to Facebook., Zoom, and Shopify — took in US$130m in funding to reach a valuation of US$1.2b. Meanwhile, Wealthsimple, which only last October was valued at more than US$1b, is said to be starting a new financing round with a goal of increasing its valuation to US$3.5b.
If you’re starting a hardware company and dream of frolicking with those unicorns and narwhals, get a boost from ventureLAB. Applications for its 2021 HardTech Pitch Competition are closing this Wednesday. You could be on your way to Canada’s only hardware and semiconductor incubator and lab. Apply today — more details in our opportunities section.
If you start work on a startup today, will you be able to find talent when you need it? We’ve seen how companies are having a difficult time filling open tech roles, despite the pandemic and that big tech players setting up shop in Toronto might actually be good for talent growth within the city. Today, though, with our workplaces spanning home offices and even borders, the dreaded “brain drain” continues but in a different form. Thanks to the pandemic, American and other foreign companies can hire Canadian tech workers without mucking about with visas — and pay them more.
If American companies can pay more for remote Toronto tech talent, will small startups be left out of the talent crunch? Not necessarily, says Abdullah Snobar, executive director at the DMZ. Large segments of Canadians (eg. women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+) are still underrepresented in tech. This is an opportunity for any company which can seek out and support talent from those communities:
Snobar reckons there are “thousands to hundreds of thousands” of Black youth across the country who “could be the next big thing,” but rampant unconscious bias in the industry holds them back. “I never liked the fact that people say we have a talent shortage, because to me, that’s bullcrap,” said Snobar.
Community Opportunities
Here are some upcoming deadlines for applying to accelerators, grants and funding, or other competitions. Don’t miss out! If you know of others, please submit any application deadlines and I’ll post them if they’re relevant.
The 2021 HardTech Pitch Competition will award up to $25,000 in prizes, and serve as an application to the third cohort of ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative. Eligible companies will fast-track their applications to the initiative, Canada’s only hardware and semiconductor lab and incubator, helping to accelerate commercialization at scale. The competition will be held on June 23 and is open to small businesses developing hardware and semiconductor-focused products. Up to eight finalists will have the opportunity to showcase their solution to a broad audience, including industry leaders, investors, government, media, and more!
The Station FinTech Montréal Accelerator, powered by Highline Beta, is an opportunity for fintech and insurtech startups from across Canada to work closely with Québec’s financial and insurance institutions. It’s a true ecosystem program to help startups and big companies connect. Operated in Montréal, the program will benefit startups with a product in the market that enables safer, faster, and more reliable payments. Participants will receive four months of milestone-driven programming tailored to their needs; hands-on weekly coaching on growth, plan development, fundraising, and corporate engagement strategy; corporate connections with curated events, pitch sessions, and private sessions with advisors; as well as an optional minimum initial investment of $25K.
This program, delivered by Futurpreneur, will provide young, Black entrepreneurs age 18-39 across Canada with a comprehensive offering of $5,000–$60,000 in startup loan financing, as well as up to two years of mentorship, opportunities to engage with a national network of Black entrepreneurs, leaders and community organizations at a range of entrepreneurship events, and a variety of relevant tools and resources. Participants who are keen to scale their businesses even further will also be eligible for up to $40,000 in follow-on financing funded by RBC, based on the first two years of successful business performance.
ATS Labs is a Canadian first — a unique 3-month program tailored to startups serving people with disabilities. Ever been told your product is not scalable, or won’t have a large enough market? So have we. We understand the unique problems you face, so we created sessions specifically tailored for accessibility startups, such as inclusive design, inclusive marketing, co-creation, and more. Starting in August, you’ll learn directly from founders of later-stage accessibility startups, world-renowned inclusive design practitioners, experienced accessibility innovators, healthtech specialists, and successful investors. We’re bringing together founders of accessibility startups from all over the world.
To solve the world’s climate challenges, we need more than just good ideas. We need diversity of thought to deliver meaningful impact. This means women and individuals from underrepresented communities — more than ever — need to be part of the solution. The RBC Women in Cleantech Accelerator is part of the answer. Each year, we recruit a mix of 10 exceptional women entrepreneurs and coach them through an intensive 12-month program, connecting them to top government laboratories, investors and corporate partners so that they may stay dedicated to their mission. Participants get access to a lead business advisor with deep sector knowledge, a potential no-cost opportunity to work with a federal government lab facility, workshops, networking, and market intelligence, capital, talent and communications services.
Have a great week, and stay well!
Ian Stevens ◦

Techstars Startup Digest Techstars Startup Digest Toronto is curated by:
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